Overture 15, filed by Pacific Northwest Presbytery — and similar to an Overture that presbytery sent to the 44th Assembly — seeks to clarify a phrase in BCO 43-1: “no complaint is allowable in a judicial case in which an appeal is pending.”
The Presbytery argues that this phrase has caused confusion and cites several Standing Judicial Committee cases in which it has been an issue. The proposed clarification would (1) specify the time after which the accused in a judicial case may no longer file a complaint (appointment of a prosecutor to prepare the indictment and conduct the case) and (2) the adjudication of a complaint filed concerning a judicial case by anyone other than the accused after the appointment of the prosecutor would be delayed until after the case has been completed or, if the decision is appealed, after the appeal has been adjudicated, withdrawn, or abandoned.
The overture points out that during a trial, an accused may object to the court concerning any aspect of the process (BCO 32-14); and that the proper recourse for an accused who is not satisfied with the decision is to file an appeal to the next highest court.
At the Mobile Assembly, the Overtures Committee recommended approval of this proposal by a vote of 80-2, but the Assembly rejected it, 227-427. One of the arguments made on the floor at Mobile was that a thorough revision of the Book of Discipline is in the works and any changes to BCO 43 should await completion. Pacific Northwest Presbytery Clerk Howard Donahoe asserts, “Few if any speeches from the floor in Mobile were against the merits of the change to 43-1. They were only against the timing.” In their rationale, the Presbytery suggests that should such a revision be forthcoming, this revision could be revised at that time if necessary.
The overture was referred to the Overtures Committee (OC) and to the Committee on Constitutional Business which has advised the OC that it is not in conflict with any other provision of the Constitution.